Washington County law enforcement train for mental health calls

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — Washington County law enforcement headed back to the classroom this week. Deputies and officers from the Sandersville Police Department, Georgia State Patrol, as well as the Washington and Morgan County Sheriff’s Offices took part in training this week to help the address mental health calls.

“The reality of this is that this is a call we’re going to go to,” Deputy Garret Brown of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office says. “We’re going to deal with people going through a mental crisis. It’s very important that we know how to appropriately respond.”

The week-long course, led by members of the Georgia Crisis Intervention Team, puts participants in different scenarios. They not only have to think on their feet to diffuse a situation, they need to get the person proper care.

“These are things that happen in everyday life,” Amy Watson, a jail administrator with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, says. “They’re things you see on TV and don’t happen in our communities. But, they actually do happen.”

In 2017, 58-year-old Eurie Martin died in custody after being tased by Washington County sheriff’s deputies. He suffered from a mental illness.

“This training helps us develop skills to handle these situations without going to physical force,” Officer Travis Farrin of the Sandersville Police Department says.

The training is also tailored to help officers with their own mental health.

“Most citizens, who are not first responders or in the military, may see two things in their lifetime, called critical incidents,” Chuck Simmons, an instructor with the Georgia Crisis Intervention Team, explains. “We may see two in a day. Our body is not made for that much trauma. So, we have to have a way to vent and release that.”

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